Waiter, Is That A Toe In My Drink?

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For a drinks challenge with an extra kick, try joining the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, where they serve a shot with an actual dehydrated human toe. This gruesome challenge is not for the faint-hearted, but the brave will prevail.

If you find yourself in Dawson City, CA, be sure to pop in at the Sourdough Saloon and discover the Legend of the “Sourtoe”!


Some Sourtoe History (His-Toe-Ry)

The legend of the sourtoe cocktail began during a heavy snow blizzard in 1920. Louie Linken and his younger brother Otto were running rum across the border. Otto stepped off his dog sledge and landed in some icy snow overflow, soaking his foot with the ice water.

Sadly, Louie’s big toe was lost to frostbite, and years later, this very toe was found by Captain Dick Stevenson (who sadly passed away in 2019) while clearing out an abandoned log cabin in 1973. He conferred with his friends about his find, discussed the regulations for the challenge, and so the Sourtoe Cocktail Club was established. 

What Is Frostbite?


Frostbite occurs when the skin and the underlying tissue freeze. The beginning stages of frostbite, also known as frostnip, will leave no permanent damage if blood flow is returned to the affected skin. 

Severe frostbite will require medical attention and will leave permanent damage to the affected area or possible amputation; yikes!

The Bar

The “Sourtoe” Cocktail Club can be found at the Downtown Hotel’s Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City, Canada. The “Sourtoe” Cocktail Club has over 95,000 members and counting, and the Sourtoe cocktail has become a time-honoured tradition in the city.

Sourtoe Cocktail Recipe

The Sourtoe cocktail’s unique recipe is one that will be hard to deviate from, so it is best to follow the recipe step by step.

  • 1 once (minimum) of your choice of spirit alcohol
  • 1 dehydrated toe
  • Garnish with courage

How To Take The Shot (The Rules!)

The first step is to purchase your choice of shot. There is an additional charge of $6.00 payable to the “Toe Captain,” who serves the shot and administers the toe into your drink. The “Toe Captain” will read you the rules. Furthermore, there is no chewing, biting, or placing the toe inside your mouth!

There is one main rule to adhere to when taking on the “Sourtoe” challenge, “you may drink it very fast, you may drink it very slow, but your lips have got to touch the human toe.”

Has Anyone Swallowed The Toe?

Has Anyone Swallowed The Toe

The toe was swallowed once before, and the participant was issued a $1900 bar fine. So it is not recommended to swallow the toe, even though you may be tempted. Several of the toes have been stolen over the years, but luckily, someone is always willing to donate another.

Become A Sourtoe Member

Becoming a select member of the “Sourtoe” Cocktail Club can be obtained in five easy steps. This is a club that already has over 95,000 members and counting. People from all around the globe come to the Sourdough Saloon for the ultimate challenge.

  • Step 1: Show up at the Sourdough Saloon
  • Step 2: Purchase a shot of your choice (Club members prefer a shot of Yukon Jack)
  • Step 3: Pledge the “Sourtoe” oath
  • Step 4: Watch a genuine dehydrated toe be dropped into your shot
  • Step 5: take your “Sourtoe” cocktail shot, but the toe must touch your lips

Upon completing the challenge, you will be awarded a certificate that will give you the ultimate bragging rights over your friends and family! The next step will be challenging them to attempt the “Sourtoe” cocktail!

Do Toes Get Donated?

Do Toes Get Donated?

All the toes used in the “Sourtoe” Cocktail are donated. Some toes are sent in by mail, and others are personally dropped off at the bar. Ten toes are used on a rotation basis, and each toe does a stint of about five years before it is retired.

Any toe will do, as they have received donated toes that were removed due to gout, frostbite, and personal injury. A total of 25 toes have been donated since the launch of the “Sourtoe” Cocktail Club, and many more will find their way to the Sourdough Saloon.

How Safe Is All This?

At the time of writing this article, the “Sourtoe” challenge meets all the sanitary standards that are required by the local health department. The toes are apparently kept on a salt bed when they are not in a shot. Then the toe is served in a 40% ABV alcohol to kill any further contaminates. 

So if you have any doubt that this challenge may be a little on the cannibalistic side, not to worry, as there is no biting allowed, no matter how hungry you may be.


image of toes

The “Sourtoe” cocktail is amongst the ultimate bucket list items that one can do. Drinking a shot with a dehydrated human toe in it may turn many patrons away. Still, it is the ultimate bragging right for those who complete it. 

The rules are simple, and the alcohol is good, but do you have the courage to complete the challenge? If so, take a trip to the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City, Canada, and become a lifelong member of the “Sourtoe” Cocktail Club.


Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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